Friday, April 15, 2011

Endlessly Entertaining Easter Eggs

While Easter basket fillers are still available in stores, I thought I’d pass along this fun activity suggestion that can be used any time of year. This twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt is a fabulous activity for promoting fine motor skills, language learning and sensory exploration with your little one. Simply find a large container and fill it with multicoloured Easter basket hay (you’ll find packages of this thinly shredded paper or plastic anywhere Easter baskets are sold). Then use an assortment of plastic Easter eggs (also usually available in bulk packages in the Easter basket aisle) and hide them in the hay. Throw in a few clean sandbox toys, such as buckets, rakes, and shovels, and you’ll be surprised how long your kids will be thoroughly entertained! (Be sure to supervise  little ones, as you don’t want them trying to eat the hay or mouth the eggs).
As with all great play activities, there are endless variations you can make to this game…
·   Pulling the plastic Easter Eggs apart and putting them back together (tricky!) is a fantastic way for kids to strengthen fine motor skills.
·    Try hiding little toys and other objects inside of the Easter eggs for a great language building game. Little ones will be fascinated as you pull toys out of the eggs and tell them the names of the things you find. Beginning talkers will delight in telling you what they’ve discovered. And older kids will love the challenge of trying to guess what’s inside the egg before they open it.
·    When your munchkins grow tired of playing in the hay, throw in a fun sensory twist. Try hiding Easter eggs in a container full of uncooked rice, cornmeal, puffed wheat, or even some fabulously fun and slimy goop (click here for goop recipe). Happy Easter egg hunting, everyone!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Earth-Friendly Spring Flowers

My hubby and I married young, and as ours was the first wedding among our circle of friends, we were blessed with an abundance of wedding showers – seven, to be exact. And it was at those wedding showers that I first earned my reputation as a tissue paper hoarder. As a general rule, I detest wastefulness, and couldn’t bear the thought of piles and piles of perfectly good gift wrap and tissue paper simply being thrown away. So my guests were forced to sit patiently as I carefully unwrapped each gift, painstakingly sorting and folding every salvageable morsel of gift wrap.
By the time my daughter arrived ten years later, my friends and family were well aware of my gift wrap salvaging obsession. And at each of my three baby showers, a paper-folding assistant quickly materialized by my side. There have been a few giggles at my expense. But I remain proud of my meticulously folded gift wrap stash, which over the years has saved me considerable money while keeping all of that unnecessary waste out of the landfill.
Now that my daughter is an expert gift-unwrapper, there is nothing at all meticulous remaining about my stash. Tissue paper is crumpled. Gift wrap is shredded. But all is not lost! I recently separated out all of the truly mangled bits, and put them in a large box in our craft supply cupboard. There are endless craft projects just screaming to be made. But we started with a simple one, perfect for spring…

You will need:
Construction paper
OR for an environmentally friendly twist, reuse backs of printer paper or empty cardboard packaging
Tissue paper in bright colours (used, of course – the more crumpled the better!)
Crayons or felts
Tissue paper flowers are so easy to make that even the tiniest of tots can do it. We drew on leaves and stems with crayon, but for a fun and authentic touch, go for a walk and collect some real twigs to use as your flower stems (collecting the twigs will likely be the most fun part of this activity!). If you are attempting this craft with a toddler, or just don’t want your child exposed to all of the chemicals in craft glue, try using my incredible edible craft glue recipe – it really works! Be sure to sit down with your child and join in on the fun of this super simple, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly spring craft activity. Enjoy!